San Juan approves random drug test for students of public, private schools

Daily Tribune (http://www.tribune.net.ph/metro/20080913met3.html)
09/13/2008

After getting the unanimous support of both the public and private schools in the city, the San Juan City Council recently passed City Ordinance 39-2008 “authorizing the office of the City Vice Mayor and the health officers of San Juan City, Metro Manila to conduct random drug tests among all secondary and tertiary level students in all schools in the city.”

San Juan City Mayor Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito signed the proposed measure into law and expressed confidence the move will further discourage the youth, particularly the students, from taking drugs.

Well-known schools in the city such as the Immaculate Conception Academy, OB Montessori, Dominican College, PUP San Juan Campus, San Juan National High School and other public elementary schools expressed support for the ordinance.

Councilor Dante Santiago, principal author of the measure, said “by conducting these random drug-testing activities, we will be able to control drug use and dissuade the non-users from trying the same.”

In the ordinance, Santiago quoted Article III, Section 36 (c) of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165) which mandates “that students of secondary and tertiary schools shall, pursuant to the related rules and regulations as contained in the school’s student handbook and with notice to the parents, undergo a random drug testing provided that all drug testing expenses whether in public or private schools under this Section will be borne by the government.”

“This is a preventive program undertaken by the administration of Mayor Ejercito to show that the government is unrelenting in its drive against drug abuse, knowing its subsequent ill effects not only to humans but to the society as well,” Santiago said.

The urine test, saliva swab, the sniffer dog search and other modern methods may be used to enforce the ordinance.

Schools that will voluntarily undertake drug tests among their students shall be required to submit a certification from the drug-testing office or agency that random drug-testing activities were held as well as the certified true copy of the summary and the result of the drug tests.

The tests shall be conducted in coordination with the local Department of Education officials, school officials or their representatives, parent association officers, parents and other authorized city officials.

Students who fail the initial drug/urine test are required to undergo a confirmatory test, also at the expense of the city government, at any of the government-accredited laboratories such as the Camp Crame crime laboratory.

If a student fails the drug test for the second time, he or she will be required to undertake drug prevention seminars, programs and activities or counseling, along with his or her parents or guardians with the end in view of educating them regarding the pernicious effects of drug abuse.

Charlie V. Manalo